Verrus cover up broken pay-by-phone system

In September last year we described how we were receiving a number of reports from disgruntled PTW owners who had not been receiving the text reminders to renew their parking permits. The number of reports suddenly increased because last September was the first anniversary of Westminster Councils experimental on-street pay by phone PTW parking experiment. So those PTW owners who had paid for and not received text reminders were given a harsh reminder by Westminster Council in the form of an £80 parking ticket. This would be reduced to £40 if they didn’t make a fuss and paid up promptly.

Westminster Council outsource the Pay-by-phone system to a Canadian owned company called Verrus. The original contract for which was handed out under very dubious circumstances, with not only the public but parking insiders crying foul.  Westminster Council have since confirmed that there was no new contract needed for Verrus to run the very lucrative PTW parking scam (FOI source).

Today we learn that the same fault is happening in the Verrus supplied Vancouver Pay-By-Phone system. Motorists began receiving $35 parking tickets as far back as last November, when the Verrus system stopped sending out text message reminders warning drivers that their parking time was due to expire. Motorist who choose to pay for the text message expect to be sent a reminder ten minutes before their parking time runs out.

Vancouver based Verrus vice-president Neil Podmore said the text messages have not been registering on Fido cellphone accounts since some time before Christmas. Podmore hopes the problem will soon be fixed but he now regrets not bothering to tell motorists about the problem.

The onus was on us to communicate it more effectively and we probably should have done a better job on that” said Podmore.

But Podmore first knew there was a problem when even he stopped getting the text alerts on his personal account.

Staff at the City of Vancouver parking department also knew about the problem but failed to advise it’s citizens of the fault, blaming the impending Olympics for keeping them too busy. When asked how many complaints have been received City of Vancouver spokesman Robin Shantz said “Given the demands on staff to prepare for the Olympic Games, we are unable to do this research, but could do it once the Games are over” Shantz wrote in an email that the city would refund parking fines caused by the text message glitch – one per driver – if there were no other mitigating factors and if the fine was the first infraction caused by the glitch.

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6 Comments

SamJanuary 29th, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Verrus is a sh*t system, scrap it!

VerrusiscrapJanuary 29th, 2010 at 11:25 pm

May be Westminster “staff” get a bigger reward from crap verrus then their canadian counterparts….It would all make sense wouldn’t it ?

ConsideringLeavingJanuary 30th, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Rip-Off Britain!

Verrus crapJanuary 30th, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Can you imagine Verrus taking months to fix their system if the fault stopped them collecting parking taxes? But when yet another fault is exposed in the third rate Verrus system which doesn’t hit their profits, not only do they not own up to the problem for months, they also have no idea when it will be fixed.

Says all you need to know about the Verrus Pay by phone pile of crap really.

PaulJanuary 31st, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Seems to me that some Westminster officers and/or Councillors are getting a nice big bung for awarding such a favourable contract to Verrus

LibertyFebruary 1st, 2010 at 12:32 pm

On a “transaction” basis, when someone pays to park their car for 4 hours in the Westminster Central Zone, that comes to £17.60 (£4.40/hr), and at 8p per £1, that makes £1.41, which is RATHER more than just 15.2 Canadian cents, huh! Good contract, Westminster!?

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